Cupra Leon Estate long term test: report 2

Our chief photographer needs a practical car that can cope with heavy lifting during the week, but knows how to have fun after working hours. Does the Cupra Leon Estate deliver?...

Long-term Cupra Leon Estate tip run

The car Cupra Leon Estate 2.0TSI 4Drive 310 DSG Run by John Bradshaw, chief photographer

Why it’s here To see if this sporty family estate can cut it as a workhorse from Monday to Friday and an entertainer at the weekend.

Needs to Be fun on the right road, while carrying heavy, bulky camera equipment all over the country in comfort and safety.

Mileage 1453 List price £42.185 Target Price £41,363 Price as tested £43,710 Test economy 35.2mpg Official economy 35.8mpg 

7 July 2023 – Loads better

Irrespective of his proven sporting prowess, the next time Lewis Hamilton comes around for dinner, I'll still expect him to offer to help with the washing up. Yes, he probably has more exciting things to do, but he still needs to pull his weight. And the same goes for my Cupra Leon Estate.

Fortunately, while it'd probably rather be sprinting from 0-60mph, my car is still more than willing to get stuck in where hard work is concerned. Soon after I took delivery, I gave it a powerful lesson in real-life hard work – with a trip to the local tip. But, with my most recent previous cars having been SUVs, it was I who returned from the dump having learned something.

Long-term Cupra Leon Estate short ladder

With its rear seats folded down, the Cupra Leon Estate offers 1620 litres of load space. That's more than the BMW X1 or Nissan Qashqai family SUVs can muster, but that fact wasn't immediately apparent while I was persuading my car to swallow a vast bag of garden waste.

Put simply, those SUVs, with their taller loading apertures and higher ceilings, took bulky items on board with much less fuss and bother. However, the next day, when I was loading the Leon up with photographic equipment for a What Car? magazine shoot, it struck me just how easily everything went in. More easily, even, than with the SUVs. So what gives? 

It turns out that, despite the Qashqai and X1 having more load height available overall, both SUVs boots' are shallower than the Leon's if you want to keep the retractable load cover in place, and that suits me; it's all the better to conceal my photographic gear when the car is unattended.

Long-term Cupra Leon Estate long ladder

Plus, thanks to the Leon's removable side trim panels, the short stepladder I use for elevated shots actually fits in the boot cross-ways; it has to go in diagonally in most cars, forcing everything else to be fitted in around it. 

As for those occasions when I need to extend the load bay, there are levers to drop the rear seatbacks without having to open the back doors. Seats down, and with the front passenger seat slid forward, my taller (2.4 metre) ladder goes straight in. Neither the Qashqai nor the X1 could manage that feat.

SUVs might be better for carrying bulky items, then, but my estate car is better at handling the clutter of my daily life, despite its sporting aspirations.

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